January 22 is Celebration of Life Day. According to Answers.com, it is “A time to honor our children and grandchildren in America. Each child and each life is to be held as a precious gift and should be treated with the highest respect and dignity.”
Not only is there a “Celebration of Life Day” in January, but the first Week in January is designated as “Celebration of Life Week,” with the entire month being called “Celebration of Life Month.”
To learn more about the Celebration of Life Week click here and find out more about the significance of this observance in Columbus, Ohio which has a bronze “Celebration of Life” statue erected in Veteran’s Memorial Park in downtown Columbus.
Michele Spring-Moore unfolds the some of the history behind the sculpture and its creator in “Puffin Foundation: Takes it to the streets and schools” in Short North Gazette article in September, 2002.
The bronze statue by Alfred Tibor of a woman holding a child above her head pays tribute to Arthur Boke, believed to be the first African American born in Franklin County, and Sarah Sullivant, who adopted the son of a slave and raised him along with her own son, William, both of whom she nursed as a loving mother.
Bea Murphy, a westside resident and member of the Franklinton Historical Society and the Hilltop Historical Society, worked to help raise $45,000 to cast in bronze the sculpture. Not only did she receive a $5,000 contribution from the Puffin Foundation and other organizations, but Murphy held bake sales and asked children and their families to make donations toward the Tibor sculpture “so they have spiritual ownership of it.”
Murphy worked to have Tibor donate a statute to honor Boke and the family who adopted him. Being familiar with his artwork which graced the campus of Capital University in Bexley, where she had been a student, she contacted Tibor, and he agreed to design and construct the bronze statue, so all funds raised would go toward casting the full-sized statue at a foundry in Athens, Ohio.
According to Michele Spring-Moore, “He and Murphy agree that the Sullivants’ adoption of Arthur Boke is a love story that needs to be told.”Alfred said it touched his heart, the story, because he said it was so human,” Murphy says. “Sarah [Sullivant] could see, here was a helpless baby, and she nursed him, Arthur, right along with William. It was a great act of love.”
The artist describes himself this way in a plaque on the side of the sculpture:
“I am a survivor of the Holocaust, the worst genocide in history.
Hatred is destruction.
I gained freedom when I came to the United States of America.
I donated this work to tell coming generations; “Freedom, hope and respect, celebrate life.”
– Alfred Tibor – Sculptor
And so the Celebration of Life during January has special significance to Columbus.